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President William Ruto’s love for Homa Bay County will once again be on display on Tuesday when the Head of State will be the guest speaker at the county’s second International Investment Conference.

According to a preliminary itinerary released by the county government, the President will be at Tom Mboya University where he will deliver a keynote address at the conference.

As part of the programme, the Head of State will also officially launch the Riwa Special Economic Zone.

The special economic zone, which was recently gazetted, is expected to boost industrialisation as firms will set up manufacturing and processing plants that are expected to employ thousands of youths in Homa Bay.

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The county government is also planning to present gifts to President Ruto at the conference.

This will be the fifth time President Ruto is visiting Homa Bay County since he took office after the 2022 General Election. This is despite the fact that he received very few votes from the lakeside county in the last polls.

His first visit was on October 2, 2022, just one month after assuming the presidency.

He attended a prayer service at the African Inland Church in Homa Bay town.

President Ruto visited the county for the second time on January 13, 2023, to launch the construction of affordable houses. He was accompanied by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Dr Ruto was in the county for the third time on July 15 for a thanksgiving and prayer service at the home of Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo in Kanyipir village, Rachuonyo North.

His fourth visit was on October 9, 2023 when he visited Mfangano Island, and toured Victory Farms in Sindo before opening the UDA office in Homa Bay Town.

This week will mark his fifth visit, more than his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta made to the region during his two terms in office.

Tuesday’s visit comes at a time when the Kenya Kwanza government continues to invest heavily in the county by initiating several development projects.

Some of the ongoing government-funded projects include the rehabilitation of the Homa Bay town pier, the construction of a fish market in Homa Bay town and an affordable housing project.

The government is also undertaking the construction of the 74-kilometre Mbita-Magunga-Sori road linking Homa Bay and Migori counties along the shores of Lake Victoria, as well as the Mfangano and Rusinga Island ring roads.

They are Dr Omollo, Fish Marketing Authority Chairman Martin Ogindo, Lake Victoria South Water Works Development Agency Chairman Odoyo Owidi, former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero who has been appointed Chief Administrative Secretary among others including board members of government parastatals.

Dr Ruto has endeared himself to the people of Homa Bay, sparking speculation that he is strategising to make inroads into Nyanza as he gears up for re-election.

His party, UDA, has been recruiting members ahead of the next election and plans to have at least 400,000 members by 2027 out of the more than 450,000 registered voters in Homa County.

The party has already established an office in Homa Bay town, which continues to receive defectors from the ODM.

The president has so far received support from a number of people, including Luo elders led by Ker Nyandiko Ongadi, who heads a faction of the Luo Council of Elders, and Suba South MP Caroli Omondi, who was elected on an ODM ticket.

Governor Gladys Wanga, who is expected to receive the President, is a staunch supporter of Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga, who is also expected to attend the conference.

She was elected on an ODM ticket and serves as the party’s chairperson in the county.

Despite being in a good working relationship with the President, she has always maintained that she will continue to support Mr Odinga.

President Ruto is expected to talk about the projects and others yet to be launched such as feeder ports like Kendu Bay, Mbita and Sena on Mfangano Island that will speed up maritime transport and promote inter-county business activities.

In addition to development projects, the Head of State has appointed several senior county officials to his government.

“We are the foot soldiers of Jakom (Mr Odinga) and we will continue to support him. If he says right, it is right; if he says left, it is left,” she said during a recent meeting with ODM members.

Ms Wanga has identified and lined up key agricultural value chains as areas where she wants investors to put their money.

She is also counting on President Ruto’s government to support her development plans.

During the conference, delegates will discuss key sectors within Homa Bay’s blue economy that offer significant investment opportunities, as well as sustainable practices and technologies for the responsible use of inland water resources.

Talks will also focus on the adoption of successful climate-resilient investment initiatives in the blue economy, and strategies to ensure inclusivity and equitable distribution of benefits from blue economy activities, including supportive policies and regulatory reforms to create an enabling environment for sustainable economic activities.

Others expected to attend the conference include US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, Council of Governors Chairperson Anne Waiguru, Cabinet Secretaries and governors.

—NMG

 

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